As the CD jewel box and compact cassette case and digital download have failed to inspire, the record sleeve has endured.

Now, the LP album jacket isn’t just besting those formats in the physical realm. It’s proving it can outdo them in the age of digital and mobile, too. Digital controls can be printed directly onto the surface of the packaging, via simple conductive technology, then interface with machines over wireless connections.

DJ Qbert went to fans early last year to crowd-fund the release of EXTRATERRESTRIA – to the tune of six-figures. The project was all-ecompassing: “preorder” funders would put up the cash necessary to compensate collaborators, cover production expenses, and even worldwide marketing, with the artist claiming the results would be the best sounding music in the most “innovative” and “captivating” packaging. The goal was, in Qbert’s words, no less than “spreading DJ culture.” (I wasn’t aware this needed more spreading, but maybe Qbert’s musical culture does!)

The packaging certainly wins for novelty, though. Using Bluetooth MIDI, it transforms into a wireless controller for DJ apps. That works with, for instance, Algoriddim’s djay on the iPhone, though other iOS and OS X tools (and with some work, Bluetooth MIDI on other platforms) should work, too.

The ingredients:

1. Embedded touch technology by Cambridge, UK’s Novalia.
2. Algoriddim djay app.
3. One special record sleeve.
4. Visual layout designed by Morning Breath, aka Doug Cunningham & Jason Noto.

Novalia are committed to this sort of physical interaction in all their work, which also includes display ads you can touch. Dr. Kate Stone of Novalia says the company can save beloved physical media from dying in a digital age:

“We hope to breathe life into things like books and album covers, keeping the creativity in physical products alive. We work at the interface of the digital and physical, taking the essence of the digital world and putting that digital DNA into beautiful physical objects which have intuitive touch, connectivity and data beneath the surface and are manufactured by processes such as regular print”

Here’s a 2013 prototype of the same concept by Novalia:

And more behind the scenes with Dr. Kate:

It’s a shame this didn’t get the it was obviously angling for – but these days, Facebook Likes might be more valuable than a Grammy.

Via FACT Mag and Boing Boing.

In comments on FACT, it’s clear that there are some delays in the shipment of the products. However, it sounds as though they’re ironing out those bugs; I’ll be eager to see this released. Dr. Stone also writes about what they’re using:

Because of this what we have shipped is running Apple’s new MIDI protocol only available since iOS8 and OSx Yosemite and includes the Bluetooth DFU service, meaning we can email software updates out, this could allow us to send out an Android update when available.

Bluetooth MIDI is new stuff — thanks, Apple, for finally standardizing an implementation. It’ll be fun to watch this evolve.

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